Australia, Afghanistan sign deal on refugees

By ASSOCIATED PRESS
January 17, 2011 08:16

 
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SYDNEY — Australia on Monday signed an agreement with Afghanistan and the UN refugee agency that will streamline the repatriation of Afghan asylum seekers whose refugee applications are rejected.

Immigration Minister Chris Bowen said that the memorandum of understanding also includes money to upgrade Afghanistan's passport system to bring Afghan passports up to international standards.

Bowen said Afghans considered to be genuine refugees will still be allowed to stay. He added that "People who are not genuine refugees will be returned with dignity and humanity but they will be returned."

The deal was signed by the governments of Australia, Afghanistan and the UN refugee group, UNHCR.

Since 2008, about 4,300 Afghans have arrived in Australia claiming asylum.

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